Book Reviews

‘The best moments in reading are when you come across something - a thought, a feeling, a way of looking at things - which you had thought special and particular to you. And now, here it is, set down by someone else, a person you have never met, someone even who is long dead. And it is as if a hand has come out, and taken yours.’ Alan Bennett

“Many a book is like a key to unknown chambers within the castle of one’s own self.” ― Franz Kafka

Thursday, 1 May 2014

When Mr Dog Bites - Brian Conaghan

This debut novel introduces us to Dylan Mint, a sixteen year old with Tourette’s syndrome. He is the first person narrator throughout and his language is peppered with lots of interesting phrases including rhyming slang. I felt this distinguished him as a character and was a memorable aspect of the book. Dylan overhears a conversation his mother has with their doctor and consequently he believes he is going to die the following March. The book follows his attempts to achieve three particular aims before this time, involving a girl, his best friend, and his father.

There was much I was impressed by in this promising debut, the consistency of Dylan’s voice, and in terms of characterisation, his honesty and frankness, his innocence, his kindness towards his best friend Amir, his self-awareness about his condition, and his love for his mother and father. Mr Dog is how Dylan refers to the feelings that are unleashed from him when he experiences an episode of Tourette’s if that is the correct description. There are painful revelations to come for Dylan as the story unfolds.

The narrative felt quite fast paced throughout which I really enjoyed, and which suited the urgency within the story for Dylan to achieve his aims. Dylan is experiencing things that every young person goes through, first love and desire for example, school bullies, feeling almost an adult in some ways yet sometimes very childlike and needing support, and he has to try and cope with his feelings whilst managing his condition and being at a special school too. He is a very positive character overall I’d say. There’s a young adult and an adult cover for this novel, and the novel includes swearing, and discusses sex and race which all seemed appropriate to me as they are part of life for teenagers. There's plenty to appeal to adult readers. At some points I thought Dylan might realise the truth about a couple of things slightly earlier than he actually does. Overall though a fast-paced and promising debut novel with much to like.

Just to add, an excellent non-fiction book I read about Tourette's is Jessica Thom's 'Welcome to Biscuitland.'

Thanks to Amazon Vine for the review copy.


  1. Great commentary on this book Lindsay. I love well crafted characters and Dylan sounds like one.

    As for Dylan being slow to realize certain things about himself that may be obvious, I think that is realistic as when I look back over my life I often have had the same experience :)

  2. Good review on what sounds like an memorable book. I really like the sound of Dylan and can't think of many books with characters with Tourettes.


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